Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar La Jolla is a continuing gala of extraordinary food and wine. Patrons can pamper their appetites with the highest quality aged prime beef and discern new flavors with its award-winning wine list, comprised of 100 wines by the glass and a first-rate Reserve List. Famous for its, warm alluring atmosphere and the highest consideration to detail, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar La Jolla features a luxurious dining area constructed around an exhibition kitchen and extensive bar. Adjoining the central dining area are private dining rooms that can comfortably accommodate small or large parties. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar La Jolla’s dynamic environment, exceptional service, and devotion to distinction turn an evening out into unforgettable memories.Read More ...
To me, there is no better meal than a perfectly cooked steak. When I received the news that I would be attending a dinner at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in La Jolla, my mouth began to salivate at the thought of a great steak dinner. La Jolla is known to be one of the classiest areas in San Diego, where the neighborhoods are just as beautiful as the ocean sunsets. Therefore, it’s no wonder why Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse has taken residence in the Hyatt Regency’s restaurant village.
Fleming’s is located right off La Jolla Village Drive at 8970 University Center Lane, just minutes east of Interstate 5. My dining partner, John, and I drive into the Hyatt Aventine complex where we are surrounded by the towering Hyatt hotel on one side and three fine dining restaurants on the other. The sidewalks are filled with well-dressed people heading from the hotel towards the restaurants. Valet parking is readily available for a flat rate of $8.00, but we decide to take advantage of the lot beneath the Hyatt. Fleming’s will validate parking here for up to 3 hours.
As we approach from the hotel side, restaurant village seems to come alive with hungry patrons searching for a great meal, and at the center of it all is Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. John and I walk through the glass doors, and we are happily greeted by two hostesses. There is an overall feeling of warmth once inside the restaurant, and the main dining room is large, with the open kitchen and bar on each side. The wine cellar is located towards the back, where I get a glimpse of the extensive wine collection through the glass doors.
The first Fleming’s opened in Newport Beach fourteen years ago, and since then the steakhouse has expanded to numerous different locations in 28 states. Paul Fleming and Bill Allen opened the first Fleming’s with the desire to create a unique steakhouse dining experience that focuses on great food, service, and atmosphere. The Fleming’s in La Jolla is open nightly for dinner, where guests can have a taste of their tradition of excellence.
Casey Eades, the operating partner for the La Jolla Fleming’s, greets us with a handshake and shows us to our booth, where we have a great view of the open kitchen and the main dining room. Amber lighting filters from the ceiling, illuminating the room in a soft glow. Wine bottles surround the tables, calling attention to Fleming’s vast wine variety.
The tables begin to fill as the dinner rush commences. We can see the kitchen kicking into high gear, while servers expertly move through the dining area bringing out numerous appetizers and countless glasses of wine. Within fifteen minutes of our arrival, nearly all of the tables are filled. People also begin to occupy the side bar, where they enjoy cocktails from Fleming’s full bar. The center of the dining area contains comfortable table seating, with surrounding booths for guests who want a more intimate experience.
The front tables are only part of Fleming’s entire dining area; there is a heated patio in front and four private dining rooms in the back of the restaurant. The private dining rooms can accommodate parties of 20 to 50 people. Two of the larger rooms feature fireplaces that are sure to make guests feel at home.
Before I can even remember how hungry I am, our waiter, Francisco, presents us with our first plate of food, a loaf of fresh bread topped with a layer of crispy parmesan cheese and accompanied by two delicious spreads described as Chardonnay-Garlic and Tomato-Basil. I try the Chardonnay-Garlic spread first, taking a heaping spoonful that instantly melts atop my warm slice of bread. The first bite is creamy, with a pleasing garlic flavor accented with Chardonnay. I then move on to the Tomato-Basil spread, beautifully fragrant with the basil, oregano, and parsley. Both spreads are creamy and full of flavor, the perfect condiment for our freshly baked bread.
The meal has hardly begun, and I already feel very well taken care of. Francisco quickly returns, and whisks away our plates, while he kindly cleans our places with a metal table crumber; a service that I always appreciate, but rarely see in restaurants today. Casey returns and asks if we have any questions about our appetizer selections. We ask what vegetarian options they offer, and he mentions the delicious Mushroom Ravioli and his personal favorite, the Blue Cheese Flatbread that can be found on the bar menu. He offers his appetizer suggestions, and we decide to start our meal with two items from their “5 for $6 ‘Til 7” menu.
The Tenderloin Carpaccio and Sweet Chili Calamari are placed in front of us. The paper thin carpaccio is fanned out on the plate with chopped red onions and a drizzle of caper Creole mustard sauce, along with wilted basil and shredded hardboiled egg in the center. The appetizer comes with sliced, cheese-crusted bread. I take a carpaccio slice and place it on the toast, with a little wilted basil and shredded hardboiled egg. I bite right through the meat into the crunchy bread; the Creole mustard adds a kick, and the briny flavor from the capers creates a great salty finish.
I can smell the Sweet Chili Calamari from across the table, and after one whiff, I am ready for a forkful. Throughout the calamari there are bits of red bell and banana peppers, all mixed together in a sweet chili sauce. I was anticipating a spicy dish, but instead the calamari has delicately sweet flavor that is slightly spicy. Immediately, I notice how the breading perfectly adheres to the calamari, it is light and crispy while still allowing the squid to shine. I ask Casey about the chef’s technique for preparing the calamari, and he tells us that the squid is soaked in the buttermilk in order for the breading to better adhere, before it is flash fried to attain a perfect balance of crispy tenderness. I am very satisfied with Chef Steven Chung’s version of calamari. Francisco comes back to check on us, giving us a fresh set of plates and silverware, as he offers us another plate of hot bread. We politely decline since we are well aware that there will be plenty more dishes for us to sample.
Before our next course, Casey suggests a flight of wine from their famous 100 Wines By The Glass menu. In order to choose wines that will fit our unique tastes, Casey asks what varieties we typically like to drink. After looking through the wine list, John requests a sampling of Merlots from different regions, and I simply ask for a mix of reds, noting that I am not afraid of a big cabernet. We are in good hands with Casey, and I am confident that he will find the perfect flights for us.
We are presented with two rod iron “wine vines” that each elegantly hold three wine glasses in a stunning display. The wine vines are mesmerizing, making the glasses appear as if they are floating in mid-air. Our flights also include cards that list the name and region of each wine we are to taste. I am pleased with the progression that Casey has created. I have three different reds, starting with the fruit forward Lodi County Predator Zinfandel, followed by the supple Mendocino County Parducci Petite Sirah and a Napa Valley Educated Guess Cabernet full of ripe black fruit flavors. John’s wine vine contains Merlots from Sonoma and Napa, but he is especially excited to try the robust international blend imported from New Zealand.
I leaf through the wine list and see that Fleming’s has established a diverse selection of wines both domestic and imported. California wines are thoroughly represented, but I also see a good selection of New Zealand whites, German Rieslings, Italian reds, and Argentinean Malbecs.
With our appetizers now gone, Casey is ready with his suggestion for our next course. He points out the Small Plates on the menu, which are slightly larger than appetizers and perfect for sharing. It is hard to make a decision between the Lobster Tempura, Jumbo Shrimp Scampi Skewers, Seared Ahi Tuna, Petite Lamb Chops, New Bedford Scallops, Sliced Filet Mignon, and Filet Mignon Skewers. After reading through the seven items, we decide to try the Sliced Filet Mignon. As it is brought to our table, I cannot help but admire the beautiful arrangement of the filets. The bite-sized nuggets of Shiitake Risotto act as a bed for the tender sliced filets and each piece is completed with a garnish of microgreens and a drizzle of chili oil and porcini butter.
The filet mignon is just how I like it, with a good outer sear and a beautiful pink center. The filet mignon has a bold peppercorn flavor that is balanced by the creaminess of the mushroom risotto. Casey refers to the creation as “filet sushi”, due to its resemblance to traditional nigiri. He also tells us that the risotto is formed into quenelles with two spoons, and they are baked to create a crispy outer layer. It is a refreshing take on traditional filet mignon. I take another bite with a sip of my Parducci Petite Sirah, and I realize how perfectly the wine pairs with the Mushroom Risotto. But we are just warming up on this feasting marathon, and the time has come for the Main Course.
Initially, two dishes listed as Fleming’s New Classics quickly catch my eye: the Porcini Rubbed Filet Mignon and the Peppercorn Steak. For those who want to order a smaller portion of steak, Fleming’s offers a Petite and Lite Filet Mignon that is served with Fleming’s Potatoes. The menu also offers alternatives to steak like the Double Thick Pork Rib Chop and Double Breast of Chicken. The seafood options are also promising with items like the Alaskan King Crab Legs, Shrimp Scampi, and North Atlantic Lobster Tails served with drawn butter. Casey returns for our dinner orders, and I decide to stick with my first instinct and try the Porcini Rubbed Filet Mignon. John decides to take a different path, and he orders the Barbecue Scottish Salmon Filet.
As we wait, I take in the sight of the kitchen, where Chef Chung is quickly expediting orders to his sous chefs, who are busily working to fill each ticket in a timely manner. The kitchen is busy, but never frantic; it’s clear that Chef Chung has a concise plan of action when approaching the apex of the dinner rush. Only a well-disciplined team of chefs can afford to give their guests a glimpse behind the scenes, and the crew here at Fleming’s offers diners an exciting look into their open kitchen.
The Porcini Rubbed Filet Mignon is placed in front of me, and the ample cut of meat is encased in a triangle of asparagus spears and covered in a gorgonzola cream sauce. The steak is a beautiful sight, cooked medium rare in order to experience the USDA Aged Prime Beef at its best. My knife slices through the meat with ease. The porcini mushrooms and filet mignon create a tasty combination of flavors, just as I had previously experienced with the Sliced Filet and Mushroom Risotto. With a sip of my Educated Guess Cabernet, the circle of flavors is complete.
Eager to find out how such a perfect filet mignon is cooked, I inquire with Casey, who is happy to reveal Fleming’s secret. He tells us that their chefs dry the porcini mushrooms in house, and then finely grind them to create a powder that is sprinkled over the meat just before it is seared in the 1,600 degree broiler. This process infuses the porcini flavor into the steak, taking this dish to new levels of bold and lasting flavor.
As we delve into the second entrée, I realize a knife is not necessary for the Barbeque Scottish Salmon Fillet; the fish flakes off with a gentle sweep of my fork. The barbeque glaze is slightly sweet, and creates a caramelized crust on the perfectly seared fish. The sweet sauce blends well with the salty salmon, served over a bed of slow roasted mushrooms. This is my third dish with mushrooms, but each has been memorable and different. The shiitake mushrooms are meaty, adding their rich smoky flavor to the Barbeque Scottish Salmon.
Our main dishes are accompanied by two sides, the house specialty, Fleming’s Potatoes, and the Sautéed French Green Beans. The French Green Beans are cooked until crisp, yet tender, and they are tossed with slices of mushrooms. I am pleasantly surprised when I see the Fleming’s Potatoes dish; it is a heaping loaf of thinly sliced au gratin potatoes with two types of cheese, jalapeños, and leeks incorporated between the layers. This is an indulgent dish from top to bottom, finished off with a thick layer of melted cheese, butter, and cream then baked to create a crisp outer crust. One bite in, and I understand why this is a signature dish here at Fleming’s. It encompasses classic flavors and textures that supplement my hearty filet mignon with relative ease.
I polish off my plate, and prepare to take on the dessert options. Casey offers us a drink as we read through the desserts. Even though I am still working on finishing my wines, I ask for a coffee, while John orders a cappuccino. As we drink our coffees, I try to make a difficult decision between the seven tempting sweet endings. Guests have a choice between New York style Cheesecake with blueberry sauce, a three layer Carrot Cake with rum caramel, Tahitian vanilla bean Crème Brûlée, Walnut Turtle Pie, Fresh Berries with Chantilly Cream, an assortment of Ice Creams or Sorbets, and Fleming’s famous Chocolate Lava Cake with vanilla ice cream. We decide to order the Chocolate Lava Cake since it is Fleming’s most popular dessert. I try my coffee black and the nutty roasted flavor helps to settle my stomach after my delicious dinner. The cappuccino has a crown of froth and is served with sugar cubes and a cinnamon stick for stirring.
The Chocolate Lava Cake is a massive dessert. The moist chocolate cake comes with high quality Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream in a Pistachio Tuile Boat and a large dish of homemade Chantilly Cream. John allows me first stab at the decadent Lava Cake, and as expected, melted chocolate gushes out. I take a scoop of vanilla ice cream with the warm chocolate cake and I am immediately in heaven. I break apart the Pistachio Tuile Boat and it adds a nutty crunch to the ice cream. The warm molten chocolate center along with the ice cream creates a delightful hot and cold contrast as I eat. I am in awe of how gratifying this dessert is, even at the end of my large dinner. It is so delicious that I find room to enjoy just a few more bites.
Our spectacular meal ends in a conversation with the kitchen’s fearless leader, Chef Steven Chung. We humbly thank him for his superb food and the amazing dining experience. We say good-bye to the same smiling faces that welcomed our arrival, and I am satisfied knowing that there is a steakhouse ambitious enough to utilize innovations of traditional steakhouse fare, while perfecting tried and true dishes. As we find our way back to the car, I reminisce about every morsel of food I tasted and the exceptional service that was provided. At that moment, I realize that Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar aims not just to serve exquisite food. Rather, the goal is to create a distinctive experience that will generate an indelible memory. As I summon the memories of my Fleming’s dinner, I can only think one thing, “I cannot wait to return”.
Insider Tip: The “5 for $6 ‘Til 7” menu features a handcrafted 99 calorie cocktail that is just a delicious as the regular drinks!
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FLemings is known for it's good meat but guess what? THey have great seafood dishes also. Had the Chilean sea bass the other night and it was just excellent. Would order that again.
The main filet is a fantastic cut of steak. It truly melts in your mouth.
It has been a while since my last visit to Flemings; but the memories were of very good food and large portions. Well, neither are true now. A medium rare filet was served blood red rare. After being sent back, it returned in the same condition. I would never recommend this place: It is too loud, service is casual to non-existant, food is better at a Sizzler! The most amazing thing was that there was a line out the door waiting to be seated! Are we that confused as consumers?